Types of entry-level work
Construction industry work includes many different entry-level roles – spanning:
- site work in labouring, trade apprenticeships and machinery operation
- project, site, and office administration work. This work includes
- contract management
- purchasing and accounts
- warehousing and logistics
- human resources management
- technical roles in fields like surveying, cost estimation, architectural drafting and occupational health and safety.
You could work on a range of projects:
- Civil construction projects build new infrastructure and public assets. This work occurs in metropolitan, regional and remote areas. It includes:
- Residential building construction includes both large and small-scale projects. Work includes the build and fit-out of new houses and apartments. It also includes renovating and repairs to existing properties.
- Commercial building construction is the build and fit-out of business premises. This includes offices, shops, restaurants, cafés, warehouses, and factories.
- Demolition and site preparation services includes:
- operation of heavy machinery
- erecting and maintaining scaffolding and barriers (to ensure safety of workers and the public).
Find out about the pay, projected growth, employment locations, skills and interests of people working as:
Training for entry-level work
You can find subsidised training on the MySkills website. You can find courses to prepare you for entry-level work using these keywords:
If you want to work in a trade (e.g., carpenter, plumber, electrician) you will need to do an apprenticeship. Before you start trade training you need a job offer from an employer. You can find business trainee and apprenticeship vacancies on Apprenticeship Network Provider jobs boards.
Relevant literacy and numeracy skills are essential for this field. Check your literacy and numeracy skills for work in the construction industry:
Possible career paths
You can progress your career from entry level roles in a few different ways. For instance:
- labourers can progress to foreperson and manage a team of labourers
- once you have experience as a supervisor you can branch out on your own. You could start your own business as a subcontractor.
- labourers doing shovel work can progress into operating excavators, rollers, and scrapers
- business administration and trade-qualified workers can move into professional roles. These roles might include cost estimation, surveying, work health and safety and procurement. (You might need to do another qualification to progress your career).
The type of person who suits this work
This work suits people with the following values and attributes:
- interested in the construction industry
- willing to work early starts and long days
- punctual and reliable
- a positive attitude to work and your colleagues
- ability to communicate in a team environment
- focussed on safety
- able to read simple plans and instructions
- able to complete tasks in a way that meets requirements
- physically fit and enjoys working outdoors
- safely use hand tools and plant equipment.
Build your experience by working in jobs where mistakes don't have a big impact on safety and cost. You might start out digging trenches for pipes and fibres or laying kerbing in a new suburb. In time, you could move onto using mobile plant machinery or working on bridges and tunnels. Employers will give you more complex jobs once you have shown you are trustworthy.
Safety training and licensing is essential for construction workers.
You will need specialist licenses to work in civil construction. State and Territory authorities set licensing requirements. This means the requirements vary by location. All construction workers must get a construction induction training card (also known as a white card) before starting work. Workers doing high risk activities may also need other tickets and licences. High risk activities include:
- asbestos removal
- operation of cranes and heavy machinery
- traffic control.
Trade roles require completion of an apprenticeship. Other entry-level roles are available, including traffic control, labouring, and site office administration. Every employer is different. Most will need the following before you start working for them:
- general construction induction training card
- current driver’s licence (Medium Rigid can be useful)
- medical clearance
- clean drug and alcohol test results
- national police check
- first aid certificate
Applying for jobs
Get free coaching on writing job applications, doing interviews and preparing for work:
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Spend some time researching businesses that offer entry-level vacancies in this field. This will help you tailor your job applications. Use business websites to learn about organisations and the projects they are delivering. This will help you figure out what type of construction work is most interesting to you. The time you spend will also help you prepare for job interviews. Employers will expect you to have a basic understanding of the kind of work they do.
Online job boards can make finding a job easier. You can customise searches and apply with a few clicks.
Find local businesses by searching online jobs boards for:
- civil construction
- apprenticeships, construction cadet, construction trainee, trainee assessor and
- mobile plant operators.
Go to Workforce Australia Online, find the ‘filter & sort’ function and from the industries drop down menu select:
- Construction or
- Trades and services
Find apprenticeships on Apprenticeship Network Provider jobs boards.
You might not see a lot of entry-level vacancies on construction business websites. This is because many businesses rely on other organisations to recruit staff. These organisations include:
- recruitment agencies and labour hire firms
- group training organisations
- apprenticeship network providers to source new candidates.
Entry-level jobs are also available by contacting businesses to submit an expression of interest via reception or their website. An expression of interest should include your résumé and a cover letter outlining:
- why you want to work for the company
- how your values and attributes make you suitable for a career path in this industry
Businesses you might approach could include…
- For labouring roles, you could try:
- a family-owned residential construction business
- a civil construction subcontractor specialising in labouring and machinery operation services
- For trade apprenticeship and construction administration trainee roles you could try:
- an organisation with advertised vacancies for tradespeople and construction administration roles
- large employers who advertise entry-level programs on their websites.